Social Status, Not Alcohol, May Be Deciding Factor in Health Risks

Article excerpt

The link between drinking habits and social and psychological characteristics may explain the supposed health benefits of wine that have been reported in some studies.

Erik L. Mortensen, Ph.D., of the Danish Epidemiology Science Center, Copenhagen, Denmark, and June M. Reinisch, Ph.D., of Indiana University, Bloomington, and colleagues collected data on 363 Danish men and 330 Danish women between 29 and 34 years of age. They examined the subjects' socioeconomic status, education, intelligence quotient (IQ), personality, psychiatric symptoms, and health-related behaviors, including alcohol consumption.

The authors found that wine drinking was a general indication of high social, cognitive, and personality development in Denmark. Because familiar factors have been associated with better health in other populations, the authors postulate that the association might explain the apparent health benefits of wine.

According to the researchers, "... wine drinking was consistently associated with higher scores in parental social status, parental education, and subjects' years in school and social status. …